The City of Gardens (1735-1850)
The Safavid City
While there is little material evidence of pre-19th-century Tbilisi remaining, we intend to study travel writings of the early modern era, historical documentation of urban and horticultural practices of the Persianate world and the Safavid-era Persian poetry of allegorical and real gardens, which are also typical of the literature of "Old Tbilisi." This early-modern archive will then be juxtaposed alongside images of the actual gardens of Tbilisi found in the 19th-century archive. It will be our thesis that the “Oriental” city was appropriated in the colonial era on the basis of soundscapes centered on the vestigial gardens of the destroyed Safavid city, rather than the architectural cityscape of the winding streets, balconies and bazaars of the old city that typify later construals of "Old Tbilisi".
The Romantic “City of Gardens”: Tbilisi around the time of Russian conquest